Saturday, 31 January 2015

The dark side of Batumi

A shot female Honey Buzzard. Many birds are left where they fall either because the shooters can't find them or they are not bothered.

Relatively fresh secondaries, very fresh inner three primaries and worn P4-10.

I saw this bloke carrying a gun wandering down a track below Station 1. A closer look through the scope revealed a freshly shot juvenile Pallid Harrier hanging from his belt. It is illegal to shoot raptors in Georgia but it is totally ignored.

This is a method they use to catch hawks and falcons. It involves tying a Red-backed Shrike to a piece of string and dangling it from a cane in front of a mist net. The fluttering shrike attracts Sparrowhawks, Goshawks etc which the people then train up to catch Quail. It is an old practice not witnessed in many countries nowadays. The bloke holding the cane is the same person in the above photo and a shot buteo has now joined the Pallid Harrier on his waist band.

A rough drawing taken from the above photo showing the general idea of the method. It is very effective.

A badly injured adult female Honey Buzzard. This bird had been shot in the right wing and I doubt will get much further than Turkey.

Juvenile Honey Buzzard with gun shot damage.

Adult male Honey Buzzard

Common Kestrel

Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle with shot damage to it's left wing and legs. Blood can be seen on it's legs and I guess it will have taken shot to the body also.

Juvenile Steppe Buzzard that won't be going to South Africa.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier missing it's tail. The protruding things are it's legs.

Black Kite with shot right wing.

These youths were shooting Bee-eaters for fun close to Station 1.

People often go out and shoot a few raptors before barbequing them. A bit like me going to Norfolk and shooting a couple of Marsh Harriers before cooking and eating them at the side of the road.

This stunning juvenile Honey Buzzard was shot by the above person. Low cloud was forcing raptors to fly low and many were getting shot just behind Station 1.

I had never witnessed raptors being so blatantly shot out of the sky like this. On cloudy showery days raptors were often forced to fly low and the hunters knew this. It was possible to hear 100 gun shots every hour on such days.

Juvenile Hen Harrier passing over a shooter. I would like to think that he had spared it on purpose but I reckon he just hadn't seen it coming.